This summer I went on a quest to find PEI’s best lobster roll and here are my top 5 choices. I love lobster and PEI is known to have some of the best around. With over 1,200 hard working lobster fishermen, it is no wonder there is such a delicious supply of lobster to be found from tip to tip.
When I was growing up having lobster was a huge occasion. My mother would make lobster pasta fra diavolo (only Italians would have a first course before a lobster dinner!) and then we would get into the boiled lobsters.
I learned from a very young age how to shell a lobster and not to waste even a leg. The eating would get so messy that my oldest sister was always so eager to get into the tail that she would get lobster juice on me. So began my tradition of wearing a garbage bag for our lobster feeds. Then I discovered the easy (and less messy) way to enjoy a lobster – the lobster roll. No garbage bag needed, just a discerning palate.
The lobster roll might just be one of the most divisive, and versatile, sandwiches around – traditionalists don’t even like celery mixed in while adventurous chefs are creating bold new flavour creations. I’m torn on the subject – I want the lobster to have a starring role but I do love a good culinary twist. The bread to lobster ratio and just enough sauce (butter or mayo) to hold it all together, are what I look for in a good lobster roll.
Starting with my favourite, here is my list of top 5 lobster rolls around the Island so far (by no means exhaustive – there are dozens of lobster rolls left to try!).
I died and went to crustacean heaven. My husband had The Local – made with lemon butter, just a touch of celery and mayo, and a sprinkling of pepper and I had the Something Fancy served hot with lemon butter. We kept passing them back and forth trying to decide which one we liked better but alas we arrived at a stalemate – the Something Fancy had me at lemon butter and my husband says The Local is the best he’s ever had. It’s like eating a lobster dinner in one perfect package.
I tried all 3 of their lobster roll offerings in the Sailor’s Sampler – the Captain’s Roll is traditional with a toasted roll, celery, and mayo, the First Mate’s Roll is for those purists I mentioned earlier with just lobster and melted butter and mayo served on the side, and the Greenhorn’s Roll is for foodie’s like me looking for that extra something special with dill and fresh chives added to the lobster mayo mix. Dill and seafood for me is the ultimate romance in cooking – the sweet and citrusy taste of dill heightens the delicate flavours of fish. The beach-themed decor of Island Favorite’s is laid back and unpretentious just like the Cavendish Beach tourist destination. You’ll feel right at home here.
The Water Prince is the seafood staple in Charlottetown and they hold true to the traditional lobster roll style – lots of lobster and a touch of celery and mayo. There is a reason that locals and tourists alike have been coming here to get their seafood fill for over 20 years – simple and delicious. The service was excellent as was the feel of being port-side. The family-style picnic tables are conducive to striking up some great conversations – we met an elderly couple from Pittsburgh, PA from one of the docked cruise ships and they shared life advice while I provided the Coles Notes on the must-visit places to eat on the Island.
4. By the Bay, Rustico
I visited in June before the high tourist season had begun. As I entered the door everyone turned to stare – it was full of locals and I guess my oversized camera and overly exuberant “do you serve lobster rolls?” gave me away. A couple got up to offer us their table to fit our family of 4 plus entourage – I felt immediately welcome. The patrons even seemed amused with my 2-year olds numerous visits to the bathroom to fulfill his fascination with the urinal.
The roll comes on a large buttered bun filled with a hefty portion of lobster, mayo, and some celery. The lobster roll platter comes with coleslaw and crinkle-cut fries. It is just what you would expect of a local diner and doesn’t disappoint – friendly, big portions, reasonable prices.
The view here is spectacular, but the scenery is complete with fresh local seafood and a cold Gahan beer. We sat on the deck on a warm July evening and the stream of people coming to enjoy the local fare was non-stop. The lobster roll is served on a soft bun with a large piece of lettuce creating a bed for the shredded lobster. No celery and little mayo – perfect for those who want their lobster unencumbered.
Please send me your lobster roll recommendations and I will continue my quest to try more of PEI’s best lobster rolls